Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

January 28, 2014

A helicopter view

The readers of the newspaper know that I write continuously about basically two items, healthcare cost and the corruptness in our political system.

I deviate from this sometimes because of either requests from people or articles that are sent to me with a request to include in my column. I am constantly chastised by my colleagues who I affectionately call the ‘Fitness Center Mafia “for not focusing on local issues as the main theme. Today I want to describe a recent school board meeting that I attended along with several colleagues at the high school.

Months of discussion have been ongoing pertaining to the project of building a new school. There has been tremendous controversy about the difference that the folks voted for in a second referendum and what is now being reported as the possible current cost. Originally the cost as I understand it was to be a $19.8 million dollar contribution from the property owners which was said to be approximately one third of the new school cost with state funds making up the additional two thirds for a school that would cost $62 million dollars. Now the public is being told that the school could cost in excess of $72 million or maybe even more. Every day there are new figures quoted and debated.

In a public meeting that occurred in July of last year a statement was made that the school board was told by the architectural firm that the cost would be well above the $62 million before the school referendum was voted and approved. This has been vehemently denied by several of the board members. They state that they never had any knowledge that the cost would exceed $70 million dollars. Several respected community members who attended this meeting stated that they were shocked at the stone-faced silence when this was revealed. None of the board members at the meeting commented when these statements were made. I do not want to get into a “he said she said” scenario about who is right and who is wrong. I simply want to state that this present school board should live up to what they presented to the public in order to get a positive vote for new school on the second referendum. They should direct the architectural firm and the construction management folks to redesign the school to meet the $62 million criteria that the voters agreed to and stop all the controversy. Just do what you said when you asked voters to approve it.

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